Competing For The First Time In More Than A Year, The Walnut Creek Aquanuts Earned High Point Trophies In Multiple Age Groups
For the first time in over a year, the Walnut Creek Aquanuts travelled to an in-person competition. The artistic swimming club sent seven teams in three age groups to the U.S. Artistic Swimming Nationals in Mesa, Arizona this past week. Normally Junior Nationals is a separate event, but, due to COVID-19, the original Junior National date had to be cancelled, and all age groups combined for one large event.
The 12u & 13-15 competitions started April 21 with the Junior events wrapping up April 28th. The first day started with the 13-15 National Team Trials.
The Aquanuts placed three athletes on the 2021 team: Karen Xue of Pleasanton, Emma Moore of Walnut Creek and Dalia Ovadia of Danville. This team will compete at Junior Worlds in Quebec City in late August.
In the 12u team competition, Aquanuts took gold and 5th place. In the 12u duet, Kaylee Wang and Ella Hom took silver and in solo, Ghizal Akbar also won the silver medal. Emma Moore took gold and Dalia Ovadia bronze in the 13-15 solo event. They paired up for duet to take gold with a 3.3 point lead over the rest of the field.
The Aquanuts placed four other duets into finals. Morgan Woelfel and Karen Xue took fourth, Mako Begossi and Ayla O’Neil sixth, Chloe Davitiani and Ghizal Akbar eighth, Erin Maeng and Diana Mineyeva placed eleventh out of the twelve total final duets. And in the eight person team event, Aquanuts put two teams on the podium taking gold and bronze medals. In the combo where ten athletes swim together, WCA took the gold with a 3.9 point lead over the field.
The Aquanuts were awarded the High Point Trophy in both 12u and 13-15, and coach
Olga Kouznetsova won the 13-15 U.S. National Coach of the Year Award.
For the Junior event, WCA sent three teams to compete. (Juniors swim technical and free routines similar to skating.) In the Junior technical solo event, three Aquanuts made the podium: Gold went to Yara Elian who was 2.7 points ahead of WCA’s Olivia Li in silver followed by bronze winner Bianca Hoffstatter. Rounding out the final event, Aquanut Marlena King placed 6th, followed by teammates in 7th Alexis McCracken, 8thHeather Ding and 9th Joanna Liu.
Walnut Creek Junior Aquanuts
The three Aquanut Junior technical teams took gold, silver and 8th place. WCA’s Junior combos topped the podium again, earning gold and silver medals. In the Junior free solo, Aquanuts placed 7 solos in the finals, taking all three places on the podium once again. It was gold again for Yara Elian, silver for Bianca Hoffstatter, and bronze for Olivia Li. 4th Marlena King, 6th Alexis McCracken, 8th Joanna Liu and 12th Taylor Sullivan. In the Junior technical duet, Yara Elian paired up with Miko Begossi to take gold with a score of 74.55. WCA’s Alexis McCracken and Ariana Stanton took silver. Atira O’Neil and Gigi Zuniga finished in 4th place while Megan Kerner and Cambell McMillan finished 18th.
During the final day of competition, the Aquanuts showed their strength in both the Junior duet free and Junior team free events, taking gold in both. In team free, WCA placed a second team on the podium winning the bronze as well as 8th. In the duet free, Yara Elian and Miko Begossi won gold, Alexis McCracken and Joanna Liu took the silver, Olivia Li and Atira O’Neil 4th and Megan Kerner paired with Cambell McMillan to place 10th. WCA Juniors were awared the High Point Trophy, and coach Tammy McGregor received the Jr. Coach of the Year Award.
“Being back in the competition pool after a year of shutdowns was a feeling like no other,” Aquanuts coach Kim Probst said about her club’s outstanding performance. “All the athletes came alive and the Aquanuts swam like true champions to bring home gold in all the team events and the High Point Trophies for every single age category. It was slightly bittersweet since we were missing team entries from our biggest rivals, the Santa Clara Aquamaids. But we hope to keep fueling the momentum and inspiration that competition brings, and rise to the challenge again at the Junior Olympics this summer.”
Next for the Aquanuts is the Regional Championships May 14-16 at Clarke Memorial Swim Center. This meet is a qualifier for Junior Olympics the end of June. In addition, the Walnut Creek Aquanuts will be running recreational summer programs for both boys and girls. New this summer are the Aquatic Skills Clinics for boys in June and August. www.aquanuts.org